what to know before you “set a boundary”
The good news is that boundaries are a learnable skill. The tough news is that, for those of us that are learning boundaries as adults, we may have some boundary blind spots. Which is why, “setting a boundary” (which, typically refers to communicating a functional boundary) can be challenging.
One of the obstacles to setting a boundary is that, more often than not, we’ll receive pushback from the other person.
Even though for many of us, we HOPE that if we communicate a boundary cleanly, the other person will receive it well; the reality of setting boundaries is that just because we communicate a functional boundary, doesn’t mean the other person won’t have big feelings about it. Which is why it’s important we set boundaries on the scaffolding of our outer and inner boundaries.
just because we communicate a functional boundary, doesn’t mean the other person won’t have big feelings about it
What are outer and inner boundaries? I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity because knowing these building blocks can prepare you well for setting healthy and aligned boundaries. (Plus, there’s a boundary power-move I want to teach you, but you’ll need to know what an outer boundary is for it to be effective.)
There are many correct ways to categorize personal boundaries, but for purposes of this article, I’ve grouped them into 3: outer boundaries, inner boundaries, and functional boundaries.
Your outer boundaries are an outside layer that create space between you and the world around you. They give you room for discernment about what you take in to the sanctuary of your mind
One metaphor we can think of for our outer boundaries is the outside rind of an orange peel.
Your inner boundaries are an inside layer, they give you privacy and create a pause between what you think or feel and what you say or do.
Staying with the orange metaphor, you can think of your inner boundary as the pith (that white part on the inside of the peel).
Your functional boundaries are your boundaries in action. They are how you create limits. They define what behaviors are and are not ok with you, as well as your response to those behaviors. Typically, functional boundaries are what people are talking about when they talk about “setting a boundary”.
Your functional boundary is made up of all of the everyday details of your life within the purview of what’s yours to make a decision about. That’s an important distinction, and I want to acknowledge that’s a complex aspect of boundaries. But, for today’s article, let’s keep it to fundamentals.
Back to the orange metaphor, if you picture the orange with cute little cartoon legs walking around in the world, those are our functional boundaries. Our boundaries in action.
Before we set a boundary
There are actually some folks in this world that learned boundary fundamentals as children. For them, knowing what’s theirs and what’s not may feel as obvious as knowing how to tie their shoes, and that’s why they can go straight into setting a functional boundary.
They are setting boundaries on the solid foundation and scaffolding of outer and inner boundaries. The good news for those of us that didn’t learn boundary fundamentals as children: boundaries are a learnable skill.
One of the boundary power-moves you can do before you communicate a functional boundary is to bring your outer boundary top-of-mind. You may be surprised at what a difference it makes.
What’s feeling important here?
What are you taking for yourself from reading this article?
Boundary Fundamentals, Resources
If you’ve resonated with the concepts we’ve covered so far, and you’d like to delve deeper into the world of boundaries, check out: EMPOWERED BOUNDARIES, a boundary course for people that were conditioned to believe that boundaries are selfish.
In this course, you’ll learn how to:
- Overcome Boundary Guilt, discover the transformative power (and RELIEF) of knowing what’s truly yours, and what’s not
- Master Boundary-Fundamentals, learn and build the scaffolding that healthy and aligned boundaries are built on
- Learn the Art of Boundary Setting, in the advanced module of this course, we’ll synthesize all of these fundamentals into a clear and effective 6-step process for setting healthy and aligned boundaries
- Activate your Boundary Radar, develop a keener sense of boundaries and enhance your ability to recognize boundary-related challenges before they escalate
- An Experience of Empowered Boundaries, the course itself is an exercise in healthy boundaries that support you in cultivating clear, kind, aligned boundaries that reflect your true value
To learn more about this online, self-paced learning journey, check out the Empowered Boundaries page over at the Center For Remothering.
Empowered Boundaries Course
Empowered Boundaries is an online, self-paced boundary course especially designed for those of us who were conditioned to believe that boundaries are selfish.
Overcome Boundary Guilt
Master Boundary Fundamentals
Experience Healthy & Aligned Boundaries
Throughout the course, you’ll be learning the concepts, framework, and tools for creating healthy and aligned boundaries that reflect your true values.